edgar-sandovalJournalist and author Edgar Sandoval, a native of Mexico, spoke to Red Bank Middle School students Tuesday as part of the district’s Hispanic heritage celebration. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


Edgar Sandoval is just the kind of guy Red Bank school officials wanted to speak to students at the middle school during its celebration of Hispanic heritage. He emigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was 16, was a ‘C’ student and, with a little determination and hard work, found success as a journalist and author.

“He’s a living, breathing example of what we have here,” said middle school teacher Luz Nieves. “This is the example. This is what we need.”

Sandoval, a reporter for the New York Daily News, made a stop in Red Bank Tuesday to read from his book, “The New Face of Small-Town America: Snapshots of Latino Life in Allentown, Pennsylvania.” It’s a book that he said can easily be transposed to Red Bank, which has a growing Hispanic population among a mix of other cultures.

“This book is really about what it means to be you in a small town like Red Bank or Allentown, Pennsylvania,” Sandoval told students.

It tells the story of how people live and work in a small town traditionally dominated by non-Hispanic whites. But it also shows the similarities among the town’s different cultures, which is important, Sandoval noted, as the middle school is recognizing Hispanic heritage.

“I pretty much wanted to show what being Latino was all about, which is pretty much like everyone else,” he said.

Tonight, the school will host a larger-than-ever assembly and feast to showcase its diversity, with a focus on the Hispanic community.

Students from the primary and middle school will put on an assembly that is open to the public and includes songs and performances related to Hispanic culture. It will be followed by a feast in which more than 100 parents have donated food.

“This is like a big celebration,” said Damian Medina, the district’s bilingual and ESL coach.

After a two-year hiatus for the event, Medina revived it this year to make it bigger than ever by combining both schools’ efforts into one evening.

“We’re looking forward to a great show, and just to come together,” he said, “that’s the idea.”

The show gets started at 6p at the middle school.